New Delhi: A day after taking over as the Chief of the 1.3 Million strong Indian Army, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, today issued a warning to India’s neighbour Pakistan saying New Delhi’s response to any misadventure would be ‘intense and immediate’.
General Suhag’s warning comes 24-Hours after his predecessor, General (retd) Bikram Singh, who demitted office yesterday, had reiterated that India gave a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops in 2013 along the Line of Control (LoC)in Jammu and Kashmir. Gen Suhag was talking to reporters after inspecting a Guard of Honour at the South Block in New Delhi today.
Responding to a question as to what was the befitting reply given to Pakistan after the beheading of two Indian soldiers in January 2013, General Suhag said: “ I can only tell you that our response to any such act will be more than adequate in the future and it will be intense and immediate.” General Bikram Singh had already told you about the response yesterday, General Suhag added.
Yesterday General (retd) Bikram Singh had said “It ( the response) had been done. That was a tactical operation which had been undertaken by local commanders.” Pakistani Special Forces and terrorists beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj and mutilated the body of another jawan Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh along the LoC in Poonch which had lead to outrage in India.
General Suhag’s words needs to be seen in context with what-else General Bikram Singh said yesterday on China and Pakistan. While he had said he did not foresee a war with China, he had evaded a similar opinion on future conflict with Pakistan saying that was a ‘very active’ border. “I don’t foresee any contingency where there will be any skirmish. We have comprehensive rules of engagement with China,” he had said.
On being asked if he held the same positive opinion for the western front ( Pakistan), the General said “ No the western front, you know very well there is a LOC. It has traditionally been a very active border and at the tactical level there is firing from across the border”.
India and Pakistan are nuclear armed and the dispute in the northern state of J&K often raises passions and calls for a more aggressive military response. The newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party Government has a tough posture on the neighbouring country and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.
General Suhag – who will be Chief of the Indian Army till December 31, 2016 – a 29 month long tenure --- listed his key focus areas saying he would look to enhance operational preparedness and the effectiveness of the Indian Army. Modernisation of the force, infrastructure development, optimisation of human resources and welfare of serving soldiers will be addressed.
“I firmly believe in the adage that what ultimately matters is the man behind the gun. My focus will be my soldier. I will ensure that our soldiers are motivated, they are comfortable and are competently led and trained and are provided with latest weapons and equipment for their assigned task,” General Suhag said as he briefly spoke out his vision.
Meanwhile significantly General Suhag said “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the government for reposing faith in me”.
He had been appointed as the Chief by the outgoing UPA regime, but Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister in the newly elected BJP-led regime, fully backed the decision of his predecessor AK Antony. Former Army Chief General (retd) VK Singh, now a minister in the Government, questioned it. Jaitley put his foot down, putting an end to any uncertainty regarding his appointment. He virtually asked the former Army Chief not to question the decision again. Gen Suhag will be the 26th Army Chief of independent India. He paid homage at the India Gate Memorial – a World War-I era ( 1914-18) edifice in Central Delhi -- today.